That was … OK. Phew. Hmmm. Let’s do this; let’s get all of the important information out of the way in few coherent paragraphs and then we’ll riff.
The Charlotte Hornets defeated the Sacramento Kings 129-128 Monday night, ending the Kings’ season high five game winning streak and spoiling DeMarcus Cousins’ career-best (and franchise record!) 56-point outing. I’m sure he’d trade that for the win.
Anything and everything prior to the fourth quarter and subsequent overtimes will be lost to history, but it should be noted that the Sacramento Kings had no business losing this game. Everything certainly took a turn for the bizarre late, but the Hornets were without Nicolas Batum, Al Jefferson, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist Jeremy Lamb, and Cody Zeller. Rudy Gay returned the Kings lineup, essentially putting the Kings at full strength, and you just have to take advantage of beat up teams at home. They didn’t, and they should be criticized for that.
The Kings started off OK, utilizing their deadly transition offense despite playing without any regard for ball security. There were plenty of turnovers, but Charlotte looked a step or several slow and didn’t show any resistance early. You could argue that the Hornets accidentally lulled the Kings into a false sense of security. The Kings were playing loose, a little too loose, and before you knew it Charlotte had not only closed the gap but also had taken the lead thanks to a barrage of three-pointers. The Kings more or less let the Hornets get hot from the perimeter with lazy-at-best, schematic issues at worst defense out there, and by the time the Kings started guarding the three-point line with any purpose, it was too late. The Hornets were hot, the Hornets were feeling good, and all hell broke loose from there.
DeMarcus Cousins was a monster. However I manage to describe Cousins’ performance tonight, triple it and you might walk away with an accurate representation of how dominant he was. The Hornets couldn’t stop him, plain and simple. It’s a shame the Kings didn’t show the same kind of urgency feeding Cousins before the game got close, but here we are.
Ok. So where do we go from here? Let’s fast forward to the juicy stuff.
As I mentioned, Kings blow their early lead, Hornets have a two-point lead with about five seconds left. George Karl draws up a really nice play (he’s been doing that all year) to get Cousins a really quick post opportunity. It works, Cousins gets fouled, nails both free throws to give the Kings a one-point lead, but the play worked so well and was executed so quickly that it left enough time on the clock for the Hornets to run one more play. Kemba Walker drove the bucket, Willie Cauley-Stein swiped him on the way by, fouled, Walker hits the first free throw, Rajon Rondo trolls and stalls at the free throw line for what felt like minutes, essentially icing Walker into missing the second. I’m not doing Rondo’s antics justice; you have to find that video. Clock runs out, tie game, and off to overtime we go.
Did I mention how off-the-charts spectacular DeMarcus Cousins was? He was the Kings’ go-to offensive weapon for nearly every possession from the when he returned in the fourth quarter on. He fouled out Spencer Hawes, Marvin Williams, and Tyler Hansbrough, but I’m getting a little ahead of myself here.
A lot of insane overtime things happened, with the marquee play being a Willie Cauley-Stein block on a Kemba Walker drive to send this game into double overtime.
The Kings came out really strong in the second overtime, but things started to break down after Rudy Gay was fouled by way of an eye poke from beyond the three-point line. Gay would go to the line for three free throws, but missed two of them due to vision issues. He’d exit the game after that, and didn’t return. We still don’t know the severity of that injury, but they missed his free throws and they missed his scoring punch, because shortly after Gay went out, DeMarcus Cousins fouled out on a very questionable offensive foul. Cousins got an offensive rebound, and on the put back sort of blocked Frank Kaminsky out with his back, Kaminsky went down, and that was it for Boogie. 56 points and 12 rebounds on 30 shots, the most dominant offensive game in Sacramento Kings history, and a performance anyone watching will never forget. Incredible.
The Kings’ offense fell apart without Gay or Cousins. Omri Casspi made a spectacular series of plays that gave the Kings a one-point lead, but a Troy Daniels 30 foot three was countered with an ugly final possession Darren Collison fadeaway jumper that rimmed out. Ball game, Kings fall 129-128.
That’s all I’ve got. The trickle down effect from this loss is depressing, as the Kings have a very important game in Portland tomorrow night against the Blazers and you have to wonder how much energy the Kings will have for that one. And early reports on Rudy Gay’s eye don’t sound promising.
PS. In an attempt to cover my tracks, I thought it’d be fun to attach the game notes I took throughout the night. When I know I’m doing the recap, I like to have some sort of outline to refresh my memory. Please excuse the typos, it’s been along day.